By six wickets, West Indies (Gayle 67, Pooran 32*, Meredith 3-48) defeated Australia (Henriques 33, Walsh 2-18).
So, there’s the matter of Chris Gayle’s form. The West Indies opener put on a devastating display, scoring his first T20I half-century since 2016, as he pummeled Australia’s attack about St Lucia in what turned into a cakewalk chase.
Gayle hit seven sixes in an innings that pushed him above 14,000 T20 runs, after scoring 102 runs in nine innings since his recall earlier this year. After he left, stand-in skipper Nicholas Pooran made sure the chase went off without a hitch, finishing with more than five overs to spare.
When Aaron Finch won the toss again, Australia made three changes, two of which were forced by injury to Ben McDermott and Ashton Agar, and altered tact by deciding to bat first, although it was a labored effort after some early momentum in the powerplay.
It took almost eight overs for Moises Henriques and Ashton Turner to add 59 runs.
Despite Obed McCoy’s ability to bowl only one over, West Indies were excellent with the ball. Fabian Allen and Hayden Walsh Jr, who now has eight wickets in the series, bowled eight overs for 44 runs.
Allen also took a terrific rebound grab in the deep to get rid of Finch, enhancing his fielding credentials even further.
The contrast between Wade and Finch;
The fact that Australia scored a useful 41 off the opening five overs highlights the difficulties for the duration of their innings. That was primarily due to Matthew Wade, who struck the ball as sweetly as he had in the series’ first encounter. With some of the troubles that other batters were having, Australia wanted him to make the most of those beginnings and kick on, but he left after missing a slower ball from McCoy. Things aren’t quite coming out of the middle for his opening partner right now, and Finch never nailed his timing during a run-a-ball stay where he was frequently losing his shapes on shots.
He was eventually caught by Allen at deep midwicket, who kept superbly attentive after Dwayne Bravo missed the initial opportunity and flung himself low to the ground to capture it.
Walsh has done it yet again.
Walsh’s second wicket of the innings came from Finch, and he once again did an outstanding job, this time with a significant economy in his four overs. Pooran had held back his spinners – the match was an unusual case of all the powerplay play overs being bowled by seamers of various sorts – and Australia struggled to pick up the pace once they were introduced. When Mitchell Marsh missed a sweep, Allen got rid of him, and Walsh got his first by putting a stop to Alex Carey’s exciting start, who had reverse-swept his opening ball of the series for four. Australia only managed to pass the boundary twice, thanks to the spinners, who featured one over from Gayle.
After Mitchell Starc, who bowled admirably after two costly outings, had Andre Fletcher caught at midwicket, Gayle arrived for the fourth ball of the chase. He saw out Starc’s overture, but then things got interesting. He went 6, 4, 4, 4 when he got on strike in Josh Hazlewood’s opening over.
He had the expression of a hitter on a mission in his eyes. He was measured as well, but after a brief spell of more sedate play, he deposited Adam Zampa for a straight six and followed it up with three successive sixes against the legspinner in the 11th over, the third of which took him to a 33-ball half-century.
He reserved the best for Riley Meredith’s massive leg-side hit, which was followed by another the following ball before a top edge finished the performance. He was able to clear the rope on five of the last seven pitches he faced. The match, as well as the series, had come to an end.